Yoga Suits Her
I’ve been teaching yoga since 1980. A lot of my identity is tied up with being a yoga teacher. What does that mean? What should that mean? On this site I explore my personal journey and provide commentary on the state of yoga in the twenty-first century. I invite you to have a look and see what may be here for you.
Photo by: Julie Slavin Photography, Old Bar
Maria would have hated the title of this post. She was as humble a yoga teacher as she was a star.
One area of enormous influence was in her specialty, ‘Yoga For Grownups’. We old people weren’t seniors in her way of teaching, or elders, or even old. We were treated as grownups, deserving of yoga thoughtfully and respectfully taught.
Her credentials included the whole breadth of yoga taught these days. According to Maria’s bio, she could teach in these domains: classical, corporate, gentle, hatha, intellectually-challenged, mental health, viniyoga, yogalates, dynamic, postnatal, general, teacher training, therapy and meditation.
I remember Maria fondly as she was particularly deferential to me…maybe because I was much older than she, or had more teaching years under my belt. But in fact, I would always defer to her supreme communication skills, as well as possibly the best sense of humour of almost anyone I know. My husband Daniel remembers verbatim many of the verbal instructions Maria gave in the class she conducted at the Ekam Festival a few years ago–simply because of her concision and humour.
Maria died yesterday after her battle with cancer, and she died too young. She had so much more to give to our yoga community. She was never going to be a guru because Maria was too egalitarian. Students, trainee yoga teachers and old veterans like me stood as equals with her, perhaps not in terms of knowledge and skills, but in deserving of respect and goodwill. If you look for images of Maria on-line, many of them will be standing shoulder to shoulder with one or more of her students.
I am so very very sad about Maria’s death. Sorry that I won’t feel her physical presence in another class or workshop. And yet, Maria was enough of a bright star in the yoga firmament that we will carry her special brilliance in our hearts always.
There will be a ceremony to celebrate Maria’s life Friday morning April 30th in Bangalow.
Any bookshop, whether online or bricks and mortar, can order copies of Teach Yourself Yoga. Just ask and quote ISBN: 978-0-6487945-0-9.
Please send me feedback about the book. I’d love to hear about any errors or problems with eBooks on various devices. And please review the book wherever you get it. Reviews will help more people discover the book.
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I’m forever grateful that my dear girlfriend, Mary Lou, came up with the idea of us doing yoga. She thought we could lose some weight and learn to relax by participating in a 10-week course at the local YMCA.
I was a no-nothing regarding yoga, but I trusted my friend. If I had been able to google the word ‘yoga’ in 1971, I would have found references to the Beatles and Mahreesh Mahesh Yogi, Ram Dass and psychedelic drugs, and television shows with women in Lycra leotards and stiffly sprayed hair.
Mary Lou and I arrived at the YMCA class and took up our cross-leg seated positions on gym mats. I sneaked a peek at the fifteen or so other students–not a man in sight. That part of yoga has not changed much.
Leading the class was a slim, lively yet calm woman in her mid-sixties. Dorothy Tomarelli told us by way of introduction that her husband had died a few years previously. As a result of her grief, Dorothy went into a rapid emotional and physical decline. Her muscles atrophied and she lost strength. Her doctor, seeing her depressed state, advised her to take up yoga. Dorothy decided that she had nothing to lose and searched for a class. It turned out to be so much of a lifesaver that she decided to teach yoga.
This is often the way a seed is planted for future yoga teachers. We are inspired by someone. As I listened to Dorothy, something stirred in me. I saw a glimmer of hope in Dorothy’s story–the possibility that health, happiness and even longevity could be mine.
January is ‘The Month of Good Intentions. It’s the time to get back on track if you’ve taken a detour off the straight-and-narrow. January first is a blank canvas, a fresh sheet of print paper, a blank slate.
Next year marks the 50th year that I’ve been practising yoga.
Sometimes when I say that to students in class, I’ll add: This is how someone turns out after doing this much practice.
It’s one of my weak jokes. I mean to say, I’m pretty healthy but I’m not a total paragon of health and fitness. I’m a seventy six year old with a collection of old injuries and medical conditions, and some of the infirmities of ageing.
The good thing about staying with yoga all these years is that those injuries, conditions and ageing have taught me how to adapt. They’ve all been teachers, shaping my approach to yoga, and even my attitude towards life. Yoga is an amazing discipline for helping you get in touch with yourself if you are willing to learn.
I know, I know. Yoga teachers all want to teach remotely. I’ve been no exception. Here are some video and audio productions that I’ve made. Not many – it’s something that I alway mean to get around to.
No, I’m not selling yoga mats or clothing. I don’t even have a t-shirt… yet. But from time to time I find myself with something that someone may want. Have a look, I’m never sure what you’ll find.